“Inverting the Pyramid” for effective development co-operation

The global leadership – that is the UN, Member states, G20, G77 and many others  – has a historic opportunity to create a new global developmental framework for the post-2015 world that builds on the aspirations and ethos of the Millennium Declaration including the Millennium Development Goals and newly coined Sustainable Development Goals. This must also break radical new ground to ensure that the aspiration of wiping extreme poverty from the face of earth becomes a reality and does not remain a part of the ‘declaratory activism’ of the United Nations.

The global leadership has to revisit its own aspirations and dream bigger. In a world where the multidimensionality of poverty and its roots in political economic factors are established facts, a focus only on eradicating ‘extreme poverty’ is designing for failure. The vision for a new world post-2015 has to be rooted in a just, peaceful, humane and sustainable society. To achieve this ‘new deal’ dream, the focus must be on fighting a comprehensive battle against injustice, inequality and unsustainable development models, not limited to only looking at the manifestations of these structural and systemic issues. This is going to be the real test for our leadership.

Even partial success in creating a just and sustainable society depends on radically altering the path that the United Nations and Member States design for making these dreams a reality. It is ironic that a very tiny population of global economic and political elites, and in some cases national elites, design international development frameworks and the paths for implementation entirely on their own. There is no or mere token participation from the poor and ordinary people of this world, who constitute an overwhelming majority of the world’s population. The biggest reason for failure of all these development frameworks is the alienation of the voices and aspirations of the people themselves for whom the targets and goals are being set. These poor, ordinary and excluded people continue to be on the fringes of implementation pathways created by international and national governments.

A new and bold narrative of citizen’s anger is being spontaneously crafted across the world as already witnessed in the form of Arab resistance, occupy movement or protests demanding end to violence against women in Delhi. People’s anger and disenchantment with unjust national and global economic and political structures, and with their own governments, are spilling over to the streets; ready to explode. Surprisingly, the ivory towers of the global developmental architecture, including the UN, remain defiantly oblivious to this brewing anger.

The time has come to invert the pyramid; to acknowledge the marginality of think tanks, development experts and developmental bureaucracies in comparison to the energy of peoples’ anger and aspirations and make way for peoples’ leadership is designing the future course of human history.

Mongolian Herders Practice Sustainable Resource ManagementA new architecture of global goal setting has to be defined where the voice of the people defines the agenda. Importantly, after the agenda is set, the roadmap for achieving the targets has to be built around common and ordinary people.

It cannot continue to be State centric, centralised and top down implementation planning.

The implementation plan would need to focus first and foremost on empowering people and making them equal stakeholders and drivers of the development process. Inverting the pyramid needs to happen from multiple perspectives including social exclusion, gender and Southern sensibilities. Traditional development actors and models of development co-operation will have to make way for new actors and models like South-South solidarity – going beyond South-South co-operation, which still is rooted in a national interest framework – and, most critically, a commitment to complete transparency and accountability to the ideals of justice and democracy.

Development co-operation needs to listen to the voices of the people, the most marginalised. The narrative of peoples’ anger and aspirations can engulf the world and lead to chaos or can be channeled to change the world by sincerely listening and responding to it. Hopefully, the global leadership recognises this transformative moment and is ready to act.

Amitabh Behar


Amitabh Behar is Executive Director of the National Foundation for India and Co-chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

Meeting our commitments on effective and inclusive development co-operation

It has been two years since 160 countries and 46 organisations forged a vision for the future of effective development co-operation at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in Busan, the Republic of Korea. In the context of an ever-changing development landscape, participants of the Busan meeting agreed to create a new, inclusive platform open to various stakeholders, and launched the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, on the basis of four shared principles: country ownership, focus on results, inclusive partnership, and transparency and accountability.

Since the launch of the HLF-4, Korea has joined international efforts to implement these four Busan principles, in line with its commitments to development co-operation after joining the OECD-DAC and establishing the Framework Act on International Development Co-operation in 2010.

Korea is also striving to create a more inclusive and effective partnership between development actors at the national level. One example is the ‘Development Alliance Korea‘ (DAK) that was launched in August 2012. The Alliance is Korea’s national platform to forge innovative public-private partnerships for effective development co-operation. It brings together over 180 actors from government, business, civil society and academia, and allows them to share knowledge and develop joint projects.

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is also taking steps to improve development co-operation towards a better-tailored and more effective provision to the needs of each country. With 44 country offices around the world, KOICA aims to align its work on the ground with the overall strategy of the government, including by holding comprehensive consultation meetings with host governments and other key development actors.

Visit to UNICEF KoreaKorea fully understands and advocates the values of inclusive and effective development partnership, as it has been a living showcase of achieving such partnership.

By catalysing the limited resources of development assistance from the international community, Korea came out of extreme poverty and then overcame the “middle-income trap” through utilising those resources effectively. Such experience of effective development partnership was the motivation for us to host the HLF-4 in Busan in 2011 and to make substantial contribution to the strengthening of the Global Partnership, which was formulated in Busan.

Korea strongly believes that the Busan Global Partnership can serve as a platform to facilitate quality-centered co-operation that will bring about real change. And with this vision in mind, the success of the Global Partnership will ultimately depend on whether its stakeholders live up to our commitments.

Dong-ik Shin

Dong-ik Shin is Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. He has pursued a diplomatic career for 32 years since 1981. Formerly, he was Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Korean Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, U.S.A.

Indonesia’s harnessing of partnerships for development progress and the post-2015 agenda

Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) over more than a decade across the world has left us with a wealth of lessons on how a development programme can best be realised. Various modalities of implementation have been explored. Yet, whatever policy or strategy is adopted, it is unmistakably clear that the success of the MDGs has depended on a cohesive inter-linkage of different stakeholders in effective, intersectoral partnerships.

With the MDGs in the last stretch toward their deadline, and the world laying the groundwork for the post-2015 development agenda, harnessing the full potential of a new global and intersectoral partnership is a sine qua non for accelerating achievement of these development goals.

Like many countries committed to achieving the MDGs, Indonesia has shown mixed progress. Some targets have been met before the deadline year, while some others require extraordinary efforts and nationwide innovative breakthroughs to accelerate their achievement, or at least closest proximity to set targets, by 2015.

Meanwhile, there is growing awareness that government efforts will not ensure achievement alone, and greater intersectoral engagement should be cultivated to complement government-driven programmes.

indomotherweb2Sustainable, well-co-ordinated partnership across a wide range of development actors, most notably civil society and the private sector, is essential to accelerating MDG progress.

Part of the acceleration strategy we are pursuing hinges on intersectoral partnerships cutting across a wide spectrum of development stakeholders. Over the last few years, we have witnessed increasing engagement of private sector, civil society, academia, as well as youth organisations.

The Indonesian government’s Office of the President’s Special Envoy on the MDGs has been making every effort to create an enabling environment for such a sustainable partnership across different sectors. To generate meaningful change for communities at the grassroots level, it has developed and implemented two flagship programmes.

Firstly, the annual Indonesia MDG Awards, has brought public attention to a variety of locally-driven best practices in MDGs with significant effects on the community’s well-being, which might otherwise have gone unacknowledged. Secondly, Pencerah Nusantara – Nation’s Guiding Light in Indonesian – is an integrated, community-based, primary health-care intervention in underserved, remote areas.

These programmes bring together a wide range of different partners including General Electric (GE) in the private sector, district governments, civil society, local NGOs, academia, media, and youth organisations to accelerate progress toward MDG targets at community level.

Various lessons and best practices emerging from the implementation of these programmes underscore the importance of a broad-based, well-coordinated sustainable partnership. Out-of-the-box approaches have thrived as different development actors bring their unique expertise and capacities. Viewing health issues within the broader social context, which plays a major part in the health status of the community, has helped improve access to healthcare in underserved and remote areas. The intervention programme developed by Pencerah Nusantara is geared not only to address symptoms of disease, but more importantly to empower communities through hands-on education to create their own healthy environment. This approach relies heavily on raising awareness of the importance of preventive measures in health, has beneficial effects of promoting their own health and preventing them from falling ill. This has helped create enabling conditions for poor and marginalised people to develop inexpensive, healthy lifestyles at the grassroots level.

Our experiences show that the need to foster an effective, well-coordinated partnership across different sectors is indispensable in meeting the MDG targets, particularly in implementation. We are also confident that such partnership will be an essential tool in guiding us to address the new challenges posed by the post-2015 development framework.

Gordon B. Manuain

ManuianGordon Manuain is in charge of overseeing regional and global affairs for the Indonesian President’s Special Envoy on the Millennium Development Goals. He is also a contributor of opinion articles on development issues to Jakarta-based newspapers. (gordon11270@yahoo.com)